Caleb Hannan and the question of ethical journalism

yep

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The Allented Mr Ripley said:
I see many a date ending early with that line of questioning.
 
Yeah, probably.
 
Spacemans Bong said:
 
I think this line of thinking will get transwomen killed. Transwomen don't need to walk around with a flashing sign above their heads, but I think keeping schtum on the situation is not going to lead to embarrassment or awkward moments, but potentially violence.
 
I don't know how to clarify that I was perfectly serious (about the onus being on the person who doesn't want to have sex with a trans person), but not being serious (that I don't see anyone actually asking this question). 
 
To re-frame the issue, I might put it like this (with apologies to Jose Melendez, this is not a direct parallel to what he was asking): If one is bigoted against trans people, does one have a duty to inform potential sexual partners?  If so, at what point?  Does it depend on where you are in transition? 
 
There is something particularly, I don't know... entitled about the notion that other people are obligated to proactively warn me that there is some non-dangerous reason why I might not want to have sex with them. 
 

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jose melendez said:
So this raises an interesting set of ethical questions:  I one is trans does one have a duty to inform potential sexual partners?  If so, at what point?  Does it depend on where you are in transition? 
 
Disclaimer: if I post here about my own feelings or experiences, I'm very much reminded that my experience is different from (in this thread) DDJ's. 
 
In my place in the world I benefit from a healthy dose of privilege. Because most of the time I present as male, in a manner that fits the gender binary comfortably for cis men and women. I'm "heteronormative-seeming" if that makes sense. So my answers in this thread differ from DDJ's because I am not transitioning or in transition. I don't have the same moment-to-moment discussion with myself about questions like this, though it has come up in my life. I spent a year soul-searching and working out if I was gender dysphoric when all of this finally hit me in my late 20's/early 30's. 
 
Questions like this have come up in my life personally but my context is different. Because when or if I have a conversation with a potential sexual partner about my gender identity and my location on the spectrum it's with the understanding that when I'm presenting as Tiffany, that's only for short periods of time. Not full-time. Not the day after. Not the following Monday at work. Etc. I also am usually in the context of a TG party I host where 80-100 other people at the club are TG. So in that context one is likely to know that most of the women in the club are trans. Including me.
 
In short, I am always honest about "my deal." Sometimes it's obvious because I'm hosting a TG party and they assume I'm also TG from the start. It's still difficult because many conversations aren't tactful, resorting to the Couric-esque "so, do you still have a penis?" line of questioning. But to me that's like any woman in any bar getting hit on by an asshole. 
 
These conversations aren't easy. Especially if you fall for someone, or are attracted to someone. Or if the person that is hitting on you has their own issues or hangups. [Getting aggressively hit on by a self-loathing bro who's too drunk and a bit conflicted with what he's attracted to to the point where he's asking crass questions about your genitals at the bar is not pleasant, and can also veer towards creeper/unsafe territory.]
 
This question also is knotty and personal for each person because of the subjectivity of how people view relationships. I know you are discussing sexual partners in particular, which means the latitude and longitude of what defines the "relationship" can be anything from a one-night stand to a regular booty call to a long-term monogamous union. 
 
And even putting sexuality and gender in the same sentence can be tricky. Example (forgive the pronouns and syntax, I don't want to get this wrong): if a crossdressing cis-male who is married and identifies as straight is at my party, they are usually attracted to other women at the party. Other cis-women, and other women that identify as trans the same way she does. She would identify as a lesbian if asked in this scenario. 
 
My sexuality isn't dependent upon my gender. I like what I like and don't get hung up over what's under the hood. 
 
I can only answer for me, but being trans I have the responsibility to be honest. Being honest about gender identity, and also being honest about where I am on the spectrum of transgender with regards to that identity. If I was born female but am biologically male, I'm still a woman because that is how I identify. But saying "I'm a woman" to someone who possibly or likely has less experience outside the gender binary of "penis or vagina" isn't entirely forthcoming. It enforces a binary that I myself don't adhere to. So that would, to me, be lying. 
 
Like I said, in my context, usually when someone meets me they "know the deal." If I assume that they don't (i.e. when I'm in NYC somewhere at a non-TG event), I try to gauge their body language etc like anyone does when first impressioning someone. I don't tend to hit on anyone, a stranger, out of the blue. I'm careful. Or I'll politely demur.
 
But like any situation when someone's potentially going to have sex with someone, being honest is usually the best policy. Like the STD question, or the "protection" conversation, or even the "I'm married" issues. All those things if not disclosed can manipulate someone. The added degree of difficulty sometimes is when you are met with judgment or outrage. And in the face of the statistics of violence against transpeople, that's keeps me in common sense when I'm out and about. I think that most woman need to be careful in general, not just trans women, when having conversations that touch on one's trust, honesty, privacy, and intimacy.  
 

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yep said:
I think the answer is that people who really don't want to have sex with a trans person, should be careful to ask potential sexual partners and/or discern whether they are trans.
That sounds like a recipe for disaster. Things probably aren't going to turn out well if one has to ask "Are you a trans person?" or if you just break down and perform the "Crocodile Dundee Test". I'm with Trlicek's Whip, honesty about "your deal" is in the best interests of everyone involved.
 

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The other thing this thread brought up for me was the fact that in virtually every news cycle I can find a high-profile case of someone trampling all over a transperson's rights. It took Caleb Hannan's attempt at investigative sports blogging to introduce it to more mainstream audiences and maybe to some of us here for the first time, but it happens ceaselessly.
 
The New York Times and many news outlets last year were refusing to acknowledge Chelsea Manning's request to address her as her preferred gender, even while she announced plans to transition. And most transpeople in the news have that automatic qualifier to the effect of "who used to be a man," as if it's relevant to the story when it almost never is.
 
Last night, Piers Morgan (I know, consider the source) had Janet Mock on his show. [This is a good summary of how it went down]. She's a writer and transrights activist. Mock's story is known - she is not "stealth," having come out in 2011 to the public.
 
Even before the segment airs, Piers is slathering himself in scaremongering linkbait on Twitter:
 
RT @PiersMorganLive: How would you feel if you found out the woman you are dating was formerly a man? @janetmock shares her experience.
 
From the transcript. Where the commercial break teaser immediately starts things off badly:
 
Morgan: Coming up, the amazing story of a beautiful, articulate, and intelligent woman, who was born a boy and remained that way until the age of 18. Janet Mock joins me now. It's a quite extraordinary story.
 
It's clear how this interview is being framed and why she was even considered an interesting guest. Like Couric, it's another exercise in objectification for the cis-at-large. The bolded is Morgan's way of saying that she wasn't a woman until she had surgery to remove her penis. Which renders people like me, and DDJ, as not yet women in his eyes. He's still on the binary. He's still defining it by body parts. 
 
The entire interview is offensive. And Mock, unlike Laverne Cox or Carmen Carrera with Katie Couric, unfortunately doesn't ever call him out on his bullshit. 

(EDIT: Not during the interview. She later blasted him on Twitter, which led to a Bealesian meltdown by Morgan.)

 
So this is the amazing thing about you. How did I not know anything about your story? I would've had absolutely not a clue that you had ever been a boy, a male, which makes me absolutely believe you should always have been a woman. And that must have been what you felt when you were young.
 
This is another brutal assumption. That how one looks defines whether or not it's okay to change one's sex. If you are pretty, then it's okay. If you are trapped in the wrong gender and don't meet society's standards of beauty, that's not acceptable, don't even bother. 
 
From start to finish in the interview Piers Morgan was as trollingly bad as he could have been with regards to how to speak to someone trans. Misgendering, "deadnaming" (which is referencing Janet's former male name), privilege, fixation on transition and body parts, with a bit of misogyny and mild racism thrown in for good measure - because she's attractive and black Morgan actually says "So I'm seeing a bit of Janet and a bit of Beyonce, especially with the hair?" 
 
After the show when he was called out, he doubled down and challenged those that criticized him. Stunningly unaware he did anything wrong. Maybe there'll be another hollow "teachable moment" apology or mea culpa soon once CNN googles current events. 
 
The Hannan article rightfully exploded, but it's not an outlier and it's not a new trend. It is, unfortunately, the shrugging baseline expectation of today's media when they encounter a non-RuPaul's Drag Race transperson.
 

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I guess my gut reaction is that what's really important is the same thing that's important for anyone--not being manipulative.  It seems like trying to hook up with someone who wouldn't want to hook up with you if they new your gender identity is manipulative.  I'd like to assume most trans folks aren't manipulative, but if their anything like cisgendered folks, probably lots of them are.
 
I had a conversation on OKcupid once with a rollergirl who turned out to be trans, and she was completely honest with me after a few emails exchanged.  I appreciated it.  Since I wasn't interested in what she  had on offer, I wished her good luck in finding love and moved on.  I wouldn't have been a dick if we'd met in person, (I'm 99% sure I would have fiugred it out) but I think it would have been pretty akward.  If I actually hooked up with someone and found out in the process they had man parts, I think I'd be pretty pissed and feel pretty used.  I probably err on the side of being excesively understanding, but I'm really honest with people (too honest if you ask my wife) and I expect folks to be honest with me.  
 

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jose melendez said:
I guess my gut reaction is that what's really important is the same thing that's important for anyone--not being manipulative.  It seems like trying to hook up with someone who wouldn't want to hook up with you if they new your gender identity is manipulative.  I'd like to assume most trans folks aren't manipulative, but if their anything like cisgendered folks, probably lots of them are.
 
I had a conversation on OKcupid once with a rollergirl who turned out to be trans, and she was completely honest with me after a few emails exchanged.  I appreciated it.  Since I wasn't interested in what she  had on offer, I wished her good luck in finding love and moved on.  I wouldn't have been a dick if we'd met in person, (I'm 99% sure I would have fiugred it out) but I think it would have been pretty akward.  If I actually hooked up with someone and found out in the process they had man parts, I think I'd be pretty pissed and feel pretty used.  I probably err on the side of being excesively understanding, but I'm really honest with people (too honest if you ask my wife) and I expect folks to be honest with me.  
 
Short version: dating is hard.
 

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jose melendez said:
I guess my gut reaction is that what's really important is the same thing that's important for anyone--not being manipulative.  It seems like trying to hook up with someone who wouldn't want to hook up with you if they new your gender identity is manipulative.  I'd like to assume most trans folks aren't manipulative, but if their anything like cisgendered folks, probably lots of them are.
 
I had a conversation on OKcupid once with a rollergirl who turned out to be trans, and she was completely honest with me after a few emails exchanged.  I appreciated it.  Since I wasn't interested in what she  had on offer, I wished her good luck in finding love and moved on.  I wouldn't have been a dick if we'd met in person, (I'm 99% sure I would have fiugred it out) but I think it would have been pretty akward.  If I actually hooked up with someone and found out in the process they had man parts, I think I'd be pretty pissed and feel pretty used.  I probably err on the side of being excesively understanding, but I'm really honest with people (too honest if you ask my wife) and I expect folks to be honest with me.
It is a difficult and perilous business, trying to draw bright-line boundaries in the messier parts of human affairs. And the tenor and civility of this thread has mostly been exemplary in demonstrating a good-faith effort to be circumspect and thoughtful, so thanks to everyone for that. Along the same lines, I hope I can phrase the following without sounding accusatory or combative:

This talk of "honesty" or "being manipulative" kind of pre-supposes that a trans person is being somehow untruthful about their identity or person. It also presupposes a kind of "default" state where sex between people who don't know each other well typically happens in an environment of frank transparancy and complete information.

I think both of those theses ought to be proved before we start requiring pink armbands, so to speak. And I don't think they have been.

A lot of heterosexual men especially, including ones who think of themselves as open-minded and libertarian on pesonal sexuality, find the concept of being with a trans woman icky, to put it plainly. Full disclosure: I am one of those people who is supportive of everyone's right to be who they am, but who thinks the idea of touching peepees with a trans woman seems icky. Frankly, I have hardly met any that I am aware of, and most of my exposure to transexuality is probably not representative of reality.

Without getting too far into the weeds of my or anyone else's personal sexual hangups, or the complex morality of sexual attraction vs personal merit...

There are limits to what can realistically happen to most people in terms of "accidentally" having consensual sex with someone. Setting aside credulity-stretching tabloid scenarios, casual sex with people whose background you don't know well is intrinsically a game of chance, and there is some obligation on the part of the participants to proactively screen for their own "standards", to whatever degree one has them.

Most especially, people don't "end up" having sex with a category of persons, they have sex with specific individuals. If everyone had to go around announcing all the reasons you might not want to have sex with me, people of all stripes would be having a lot less recreational sex.

I think it is categorically unfair to liken trans to an STD: STDs pose genuine and quantifiable danger to sex partners of the infected. Being trans does not.

I also think that there is a problem with the notion that trans women could get hurt if they aren't forthright about their past. These kinds of personal-safety strategies are like outrunning the guy next to you in the event of a wild bear: they might be individually good survival practice, but they do nothing to reduce the incidence of bear attacks.

So, coming back to this notion of trans people having some kind of special obligation to inform potential sex-partners... Why should they? I mean, in all seriousness, isn't every sexual decision an individual one?

To draw an inappropriate parallel, it seems kinda like saying that gay men should not be allowed to hit on straight men, because then men who are not gay might end up enjoying gay sex, and even falling in love with other men... how do you know you're straight, if that really happens?

I feel like it is imposing an unnatural and artifical category on people, and a denial of the individuality of both the trans person and anyone who might or might not be attracted to them, to say: "You can do whatever you want, but just remember to announce to everyone that you were born with a penis, otherwise someone might accidentially fall in love with you as a person without realizing that they were falling for a frankenstein monster..."

Some people have sex with strangers and don't really care about the person's past or personality. Other people do want to know the people they are dating or sleeping with. It's a tricky business to say precisely where the bright, hard edge of "honesty" lies in the politics of sex. It's not the same in Amish country as it is in Greenwich Villiage or Saudi Arabia. I think the burden of proof is on those who would claim "the line is here", and it's not enough to say "that's where I think it is" or "that's where most people think it is".
 

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Exactly. If Dr. V. had been charged with securities fraud, the prosecutor would have had to "out" her to prove the case.
 
I dunno - I guess reasonable people can disagree but I would think that her being transgender would not be admitted.  Or maybe I just think that in a more civilized world, a judge would recognize that part of her past isn't germane to the issue at hand.
 
Of course, she would have been convicted of fraud even without that point.

Which is a another way of trying to get at the point at hand.
 

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wade boggs chicken dinner said:
I dunno - I guess reasonable people can disagree but I would think that her being transgender would not be admitted. Or maybe I just think that in a more civilized world, a judge would recognize that part of her past isn't germane to the issue at hand.

Of course, she would have been convicted of fraud even without that point.
Which is a another way of trying to get at the point at hand.
In the normal case, I would agree, but to prove that Dr V wasn't who she said she was (member of the Vanderbilt family, Harvard grad), you would have to present who she actually was -- which would include her birth name, which she was still using at the time when she ostensibly attended Harvard.
 

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wade boggs chicken dinner said:
I dunno - I guess reasonable people can disagree but I would think that her being transgender would not be admitted.  Or maybe I just think that in a more civilized world, a judge would recognize that part of her past isn't germane to the issue at hand.
 
Of course, she would have been convicted of fraud even without that point.

Which is a another way of trying to get at the point at hand.
I will freely admit that I am deep into subjective-opinion land on this, but frankly I don't think there was ever a legitimate story here, until Dr V killed herself.

I don't know where or how to draw the bright line, but to put it in the most stark and cynical terms, it frankly kinda seems like Hannan stumbled upon a weird and obscure little company, was offered access on the condition of not investigating the founder, investigated the founder anyway, and, to put it bluntly, unintentionally launched the investigation that drove the founder to suicide, and then used the fact of the suicide to justify the investigation that led to it.

N.B., I am not blaming Hannan for the suicide. There is a lot of wet sand dividing open ocean from dry land here, and drawing a bright line that says where the ocean starts and the beach ends is no simple task.

There is a lot of thoughtful back-and-forth on where the ethical boundaries precisely lie. That Dr. V invented a fictitious past is probably forgivable and understandable. That she chose such a bold and big fiction is perhaps less so. Whether, and to what degree she had a right to expect it to remain personal and private hinges, I think, on the degree to which she chose to make it part of the public "story" of her company/putter.

I think I depart from most in this thread, in that I do not think she had a right or reasonable expectaion that her sexual identity should be kept private and seperate from her fabricated identity as an academic/professional, if she chose to make the latter publicly relevant. And I think it's kind of a moot point which parts of her fabrication were made public in a Grantland piece, because there is no realistic scenario whereby publicly revealing that she was neither a doctor nor a Vanderbilt would have allowed her to keep the rest of her secrets intact.

I.e., I think Christna Kahrl's proposed "publicly discredit the academic background, credentials, and identity, but not the sexual identity" solution is no solution at all, just a cop-out. The reporter of fact would have to bend over backwards to avoid the subject, and there is no reasonable scenario in which Dr. V, publicly discredited as both a Doctor and Vanderbilt, would be able to privately or publicly pass herself off as... whatever she would have tried to invent as her other alternate identity.

I think, personally, Hannan should have either dropped the story or reviewed the golf club on its merits, given the agreement to report on "the science and not the scientist". Someone probably would have exposed Dr V, and maybe she would have killed herself anyway (it sounds like those close to her felt that way), but I can't see any reason why this was a noteworthy story for Grantland until the suicide, which seems to have been triggered by the investigation, which should have been nothing more than a putter review.

I am sure it was not the intent, but the effect seems to have been: find an obscure comapny, drive the founder to suicide by investigating her past, then use the suicide to justify tabloid-style reporting on her personal life. It's an ugly form of journalism at best.
 

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I'm posting from my phone so will be brief for now. But one quick point: it wasn't Essay Anne Vanderbilt's *sexual* identity at issue. It was her gender identity that was exposed by Hannan.
 

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Exactly. If Dr. V. had been charged with securities fraud, the prosecutor would have had to "out" her to prove the case.
 
 
dunno - I guess reasonable people can disagree but I would think that her being transgender would not be admitted.  Or maybe I just think that in a more civilized world, a judge would recognize that part of her past isn't germane to the issue at hand.
 
Of course, she would have been convicted of fraud even without that point.
Which is a another way of trying to get at the point at hand.
 
 
A big issue is whether the importance of prosecuting fraud (the "other side" of the privacy invasion scale) comes anywhere close to the importance of this story (the "other side" of the privacy invasion scale).  The former is all legal -- will it get admitted; is it relevant to a fact at issue; is it probative of anything; is the probative value substantially outweighed by unfair prejudice; there's no "moral" (for lack of a better word) inquiry. This is a story about a golf club. I can't imagine a responsible adult editor looking at those scales -- and if there's a near-impossibility of reporting on the fraud allegations without the invasion of privacy -- and saying, "it's worth it."  There are some comments about Simmons in another thread that seem to reflect upon his infinitesimal worldview (the Hoffman discussion).  That's where this whole fiasco starts and ends.  Simmons saw Dr. V as a Melrose Place character that Aaron Spelling never got around to creating.
 
 

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I don't mind pointing out the legal view of her fraud and whether or not her gender identity pre- and post-transition is admissable, but this was a long form piece on a sports and pop culture blog, not a case in court. 
 
One way I'm trying to reconcile this issue is to imagine how I myself would have researched, investigated, and written the piece. One of the biggest takeaways on this is, generally speaking, how utterly inferior Hannan is as a writer. His voice in the piece is smarmy and self-congratulatory and trying to be omniscient in that way that Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock are in their own documentaries. All three share the common thread of injecting themselves into their narrative with their own personality. Hannan's tone was more casual, closer to op-ed speculation or than reportage, and his personality shining through the piece doesn't endear the reader, it condescendingly takes them by the hand and leads them somewhere he thought would be met with the same consternation that he himself had.
 
The mediocrity and tone-deafness of the piece is an indictment on the editor/s overseeing the piece for Grantland. Which is why I lean towards Simmons deciding that the "she used to be a man" revelation was the engine that drove the piece to final publication. In his apology when he timelined the piece and said at one point months into Hannan's work on it that "there's no story yet" - there wasn't one until Essay Anne Vanderbilt's pre-op gender was discovered. The piece was a fungible, stillborn piffle until that was discovered. 
 
Could this same piece, with all the information we know and even all the information that was disclosed - the science and the scientist, the fraud and the gender - could it have been pulled off by an actual writer? Maybe. But maybe that would have taken an entire book to do gracefully and coherently. Grantland was the wrong platform, and Hannan was the wrong guy for the job. Grantland wants to take risks but I think it's still limited in its credibility and its reach. And if this was meant as a game-changing stretch to next level their cachet, it failed spectacularly.* 
 
 
 
*[Edit: though it did garner them a ton of publicity, and the Dr. V article is still there as a pagehit beacon. So they got that going for them, which is nice.]
 

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yep said:
I think I depart from most in this thread, in that I do not think she had a right or reasonable expectaion that her sexual identity should be kept private and seperate from her fabricated identity as an academic/professional, if she chose to make the latter publicly relevant. And I think it's kind of a moot point which parts of her fabrication were made public in a Grantland piece, because there is no realistic scenario whereby publicly revealing that she was neither a doctor nor a Vanderbilt would have allowed her to keep the rest of her secrets intact.

I.e., I think Christna Kahrl's proposed "publicly discredit the academic background, credentials, and identity, but not the sexual identity" solution is no solution at all, just a cop-out. The reporter of fact would have to bend over backwards to avoid the subject, and there is no reasonable scenario in which Dr. V, publicly discredited as both a Doctor and Vanderbilt, would be able to privately or publicly pass herself off as... whatever she would have tried to invent as her other alternate identity.
 
As to the first paragraph I quoted, some of what you are thinking about is a structural problem. Like, how do people deal with applying to jobs that require transcripts--like, what if she really had gone to Harvard, but the name on her transcript isn't going to match? Like, what if she really had gone to Harvard? See how there is still a problem? Or what about contacting references from her past? This is where public v. private gets complicated, and it's going to be that way until we as a culture move forward to the point where she could have the expectation that if an ex-employer were contacted about her background before she transitioned, said employer would react with nothing more than, "Oh? OK. Well, then, this is what kind of employee she was..."
 
As to the latter, I think you are collapsing the issue of what Hannan learned and what he wrote; a reporter doesn't write everything he learns. How hard is it to say that she misrepresented herself? "She didn't really go to Harvard."
 

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richgedman'sghost said:
 As a point of reference,  that Piers Morgan interview  was discussed at length by TW on the preceding page. Morgan acts like a total jerk in my opinion.
 
And the "return" interview Morgan hosted last night was an ambush. Firstly, it's clear he didn't read the book she was on the show ostensibly to discuss Wednesday night. Instead all his talking points from Wednesday and last night's follow up clearly centered around the Marie Claire article she wrote in 2011 in which she came out as trans.
 
Morgan kept citing the article, even though Mock herself has said the piece is now problematic for her and that she's clarified her thinking on it since. In fact, she talks about that piece and how she's evolved her position - in the book she was on Morgan's show to discuss.
 
Secondly, he assembled a panel (i.e. ambush) comprising of three cis straight people to buttress his "argument" that Mock was wrong and her community was wrong to criticize him. One of the members of the panel was Ben Ferguson, a talk show host who's not a friend of the trans community. From his newsradio portal's website, which teased a segment he aired in February 2013 thusly:
 
Around the country, more and more stories of transgender kids are causing controversy.  One case out of Colorado is causing conflict because the child in question is only 6 years old. The child was born a male, but has lived as a female since the age of 18 months. Another case out of Mississippi shows how other students feel about allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their chosen sex is making many feel as if there is a double standard.  Many students feel this violates the student handbook, yet it is being overlooked.  
 
My question is:  Is this child abuse? I think the anwser is YES!  
 
 
Last night wasn't a rebuttal or a way to break bread. It was a professional hit. 
 

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richgedman'sghost said:
 As a point of reference,  that Piers Morgan interview  was discussed at length by TW on the preceding page. Morgan acts like a total jerk in my opinion.
 
Right, I should have clarified--as per TW's last post, I was pointing out that there had been a round two and it's a great example of people not able or refusing to incorporate new concepts. It's perhaps a testament to this place that we had posters seek to understand rather than defend something they should know they don't grasp.
 

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Well that's due to the structure of this medium, vs that of "Piers Morgan Live". We have thousands of people here, each with vastly different experiences and POV. When someone blathers on ignorantly (I use the most benign connotation of the word), there's someone else here to explain to them (sometimes civilly, sometime not so much, depending on necessity) why they are ignorant. It's even happened (in a civil manner) in this thread.

Neither Piers Morgan nor Bill Simmons appear to have that same diversity of opinion surrounding them. In fact, judging from appearance, Morgan appears to have surrounded himself with the worst band of sycophants and yes-men this side of Larry Saltzberg.
 

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JayMags71 said:
Well that's due to the structure of this medium, vs that of "Piers Morgan Live". We have thousands of people here, each with vastly different experiences and POV. When someone blathers on ignorantly (I use the most benign connotation of the word), there's someone else here to explain to them (sometimes civilly, sometime not so much, depending on necessity) why they are ignorant. It's even happened (in a civil manner) in this thread.

Neither Piers Morgan nor Bill Simmons appear to have that same diversity of opinion surrounding them. In fact, judging from appearance, Morgan appears to have surrounded himself with the worst band of sycophants and yes-men this side of Larry Saltzberg.
 
After Wednesday's 1st interview with Mock and the following Twitter slapfight he initiated I thought Piers was trolling for ratings. His show's dying on the vine and I thought this was a cynical but savvy trumped up controversy, with the 2nd interview provided to smooth over the rift and show a more understanding, "teachable moment" that Morgan could build on. 
 
Last night's panel and his outrage was real, and he not only blew a chance at being a decent human being, but blew a chance at demonstrating that to his shrinking viewership when he needs to keep them watching. He really is that obtuse and ignorant with an echo chamber for an inner circle. 
 

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soxfan121 said:
I don't know if this piece has been discussed in this thread but I thought it was a good example of how to cover a trans subject in a "sports article". 
 
Scarlett, Queen of Blades and Starcraft II
 
That's a terrific read. It does everything right, and it's nothing revolutionary or counterintuitive to how a story like that and the issues surrounding it should be written. Thanks for posting it. 
 

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As to the first paragraph I quoted, some of what you are thinking about is a structural problem. Like, how do people deal with applying to jobs that require transcripts--like, what if she really had gone to Harvard, but the name on her transcript isn't going to match? Like, what if she really had gone to Harvard? See how there is still a problem? Or what about contacting references from her past? This is where public v. private gets complicated, and it's going to be that way until we as a culture move forward to the point where she could have the expectation that if an ex-employer were contacted about her background before she transitioned, said employer would react with nothing more than, "Oh? OK. Well, then, this is what kind of employee she was..."
 
As to the latter, I think you are collapsing the issue of what Hannan learned and what he wrote; a reporter doesn't write everything he learns. How hard is it to say that she misrepresented herself? "She didn't really go to Harvard."
 
I think the questions are messy ones, and that there are problems with any attempt to draw bright lines around these things. In no particular order:
 
- Individual people have individual lives, and some of the challenges of life are unfair. We all have to play the hand we are dealt, according to the rules of the game we are dealt into.
 
- I think it is placing an impossible burden on the rest of the world to ask that you be judged according to a perfectly-fair set of rules, because nobody plays in a perfectly-fair game.
 
- Dr. V was born into a particularly difficult hand, following the above analogies. Some would advise a doctrine of pure "honesty": that she provide resumes etc making transparent her transition from a public male to female. Others might advise a "tweaking" approach, changing as little as necessary in the hopes of avoiding difficult (and potentially disastrous) discussions of her sexuality. Others still might endorse fabricating an entirely new identity, with a narrative of a "secret" and unverifiable past.
 
- I cannot judge her choice to pursue the "I was a spy with a blackout past" decision, but part of the specific decision she made, and part of the consequences thereof, is that she created a story that is too interesting and juicy for most reporters to ignore. She didn't choose a story of "I was an anonymous drifter who worked odd jobs", she chose "I was a super-spy" and so on...
 
I still don't have a good enough read to have an informed opinion on this. I feel like one half is saying "Dr V lied, so it's not Grantland's fault", and the other half is saying "Grantland should not have revealed her sexual history".
 
Without re-hashing stuff I have said earlier, I feel like the truth kind of depends on a blurry-line distinction of how much Dr V really made her fabricated past part of the public story, and how noteworthy any of it would have been otherwise. It seems to me like Grantland turned a review of an obscure golf-club into a lurid profile of the founder, and was wrong to do so, but I don't have a good enough read on golf clubs or Dr V's company to know how much of a story was there, prior to discovering she used to have a penis.
 
To get really nitty-gritty:
 
...how do people deal with applying to jobs that require transcripts...
I think you're asking questions that are separate from the topic at hand.
 
There is a non-trivial question of the general injustice of popular norms implicit in your question: how do smart people who dropped out of college because they were too poor, or because their professors were dumber than them, or sexually harassed them-- how do they apply for jobs? What about brilliant ex-cons, or people whose former employers won't give them references?
 
Those are non-trivial questions, but it is neither the job of Grantland nor this forum to solve them nor to accommodate the underlying injustices. I think the best anyone can ask for, regarding life's structural injustices, is fair warning and advance notice, and the opportunity to try and correct them as a structural problem, when and if the opportunity arises. Short men and ugly women know that life isn't fair, and that laws cannot make it so.
 
We can say that Dr V was partly forced into choosing a secret past, but she was not forced to choose the specific one she did. In a moral sense, she is probably entitled to more leeway than most people, in that respect, but she is not entitled to an expectation of limitless imaginary freedom when it comes to describing her past, especially not if/when presented as a reason to buy her golf clubs.
 

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soxfan121 said:
I don't know if this piece has been discussed in this thread but I thought it was a good example of how to cover a trans subject in a "sports article". 
 
Scarlett, Queen of Blades and Starcraft II
 
This is great article but I don't think has much at all to instruct Caleb Hannan or Grantland.  This is an article celebrating someone and talking about their sexuality and the difficulties they have had because of it. 
 
It would be more analogous if, for instance, Scarlett had been nabbed for scamming the system and they chose to just call her "her" and didn't bring up the subject at all when they did an expose of how she managed the scam.
 

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smastroyin said:
 
This is great article but I don't think has much at all to instruct Caleb Hannan or Grantland.  This is an article celebrating someone and talking about their sexuality and the difficulties they have had because of it. 
 
It would be more analogous if, for instance, Scarlett had been nabbed for scamming the system and they chose to just call her "her" and didn't bring up the subject at all when they did an expose of how she managed the scam.
 
Yeah Smas- I didn't take it as a direct analog. Just that it's clear the writer did due diligence as to how to address the issue. Using statistics to frame it and clearly telling the story as it related to gender without subjective assumptions. And that this basic research can be gleaned with a quick Google search, which usually brings up GLAAD's media guidelines for writing about transgender issues almost immediately. 
 
For me it's more "Caleb Hannan is a terrible writer. Here's an example of a good approach."
 

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Bumping this with news that Caleb Hannan spoke directly about his infamous article for the first time since it was published on Grantland on January 15, 2014. 
 
Hannan spoke publicly for the first time on Saturday at the Mayborn narrative journalism [literary non-fiction] conference in Texas, in a panel called "Anatomy of an Error," to dissect what went wrong with his 2014 story for Grantland [a story which ended with the suicide of a transgender woman]. The story led to massive public criticism—as well as an internal investigation at ESPN and a letter of contrition from editor Bill Simmons — about how Hannan and his editors handled the story, and whether the reporting pushed a woman to take her own life. Hannan was joined on the panel by writers Hanna Rosin and Michael J. Mooney, and Boston Magazine editor (and one of Hannan’s early critics), S.I. Rosenbaum.
Late in the process of vetting the story, Hannan said he was contacted by one of Grantland’s freelance fact-checkers, who raised concerns about the story—the first time anyone other than his wife had voiced those concerns. “Some of the first words out of her mouth were, ‘There’s a chance this woman is going to hurt herself,’ and I said, ‘I know and I’m scared shitless, and I don’t know what to do,’ and she said, ‘Okay I just want to make sure I said that.’ And that’s a conversation I immediately should have taken to my editor, but I didn’t.” Why not, he was asked. “I don’t know.”
Hannan reflected on the ideas that journalists should hold people accountable or seek out the truth at all cost. But it’s not that simple. “At every point in the reporting I could justify myself going forward … ‘I’m doing my job.’ But part of the job was to assess whether it was worth it. And there were two people who saw that. In talking with my wife, in talking with this fact-checker, I said, ‘What happened?’ And they said, ‘You were in denial.’
“There’s this idea that it’s not going to happen to me. There is a momentum to a story that’s hard to stop. … It would have been a blow to my ego to set aside something I knew was going to be talked about. But I should have.”
 
I'm hoping there'll be video or a transcript up soon so there'll be more context.